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  • Writer's pictureRick Zumpano

Practical Atheism

James 1:16-17

If you were to ask the average person sitting in the pew whether or not they believed in God, the reply would no doubt be something like this: “Of course I do! Why else do you think I’m here?” However, if you were to ask the same person whether God was a part of their daily life, the answer might not be so positive. When a person “goes to church” on Sunday and leaves the Lord out of the rest of the week, he/she is engaging in practical atheism.

Practical atheism is a world view in which God is irrelevant to one’s day-to-day affairs. Such belief is demonstrated by the absence of God from one’s daily life. The Lord is never thought about during the course of the day. He is not consulted (prayer, the Word) about courses of action to take nor sought out for strength to do what needs to be done. He is not acknowledged in conversation. God is never thanked for the blessings that come, nor is He praised for the beauties of creation nor the goodness of life. He is, for all practical purposes, non-existent in the routine ebb and flow of life.

Practical atheism has no support in Scripture. James reminds us that every good thing comes from God. This would include every blessing which comes on Monday through Saturday: a new day, life itself, sunrise, your morning coffee, your spouse, your children, your job, your health, lunch, supper, your comfortable bed - there is no stopping place! And James precedes his thought with a warning: “Do not be deceived...” To take all of life’s goodness for granted and leave God out of the day is self-deception and an affront to our heavenly Father. To think that we can live even one day without Him is not only being ignorant but also being arrogant.

Paul challenged the very “fleshly” church at Corinth (1:4:7), “What do you have that you did not receive?” Of course, the answer to that is nothing! By omitting God from daily living we engage in a subtle form of boasting in which we are saying, “I do not need God.” Beware. “Do not be deceived.”

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